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How to Become a Medical Coder

Posted by Ben Castleberry on Jun 28, 2016 12:56:00 PM

If you prefer clerical tasks over clinical duties, becoming a medical coder is a great way to get involved in the healthcare industry, especially since there are increasing opportunities for employment. The primary duties of a medical coder are to translate medical records into industry standard code. These medical codes are then sent to insurance agencies, government programs, and other organizations. Coding accurately helps healthcare organizations be reimbursed for services they perform, while failing to code adequately will greatly defect institutions’ financial stability.How_to_become_a_medical_coder.jpg



In order to begin a career in medical coding the first thing to do is to become certified. Some certifications require different coding experience, others require some form of college education, while some certifications have no requirements for eligibility.  Medical Coding Certifications

The best medical coding certification programs will usually include:

  • Training on HIPAA
  • Medical Terminology
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • ICD-10 (diagnostic coding)
  • CPT (procedural coding)
  • Coding Software Programs
  • Healthcare reimbursement methodologies


Required Skills


Medical coding requires a comprehensive understanding of both theoretical and practical applications. Theoretical application takes place when specialized terminology is used. As a medical coder, you not only need to understand medical terminology, but you also need to know how and why procedures are being performed. The practical skillset is a continual awareness of different regulations third parties carry. These third parties are the institutions that will receive the medical codes coders send out.


The most important skill a medical coder can have is to be able to assign codes accurately and literally. This means being able to correctly match medical codes with the medical records. Healthcare institutions need accurate coders in order for their hospital to profit. Having this skillset will guarantee you a variety of employment opportunities. However, this is easier said than done, being able to accurately code requires a different set of qualities.


Required Qualities


A great medical coder will have excellent research skills. This will help you to find 3rd party guidelines and allow you to apply them into your coding. Critical thinking is another important quality a medical coder should posses. There are so many variables that take place in medical coding. Each patient and diagnoses can differ, and a medical coder needs to be able to analyze the differentiators and assess documentation effectively, in order to determine what needs to be coded. A medical coder should also be detail oriented. If a medical coder does not pay attention to the details in the medical records, coding errors will result. Lastly, medical coders should be confident in their abilities. Continuous self-doubt can cause an increase of coding mistakes. If you have the experience and the education you should have the confidence to go with it.


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Topics: Medical Coding